So unexpected was Carolina Marin’s World Championships victory in 2014 that most followers of the game assumed it was a one-off triumph, for there was little in her career until that point that indicated a prolonged spell at the top.
Her biggest title win until that stunning takedown of Li Xue Rui in Copenhagen had been a Grand Prix Gold crown in London. Arriving in Copenhagen as the ninth seed, Marin made her way through a minefield, getting past defending champion Wang Yihan, Tai Tzu Ying and Pusarla V Sindhu, before coming up against Olympic champion Li Xue Rui.
Form and experience favoured Li, but in one of the biggest upsets ever, Marin showed iron will and defiance with a close 17-21 21-17 21-18 victory, setting milestones in her wake.
Injured through the remaining season, Marin was back in business in 2015. This was the season in which she showed that her world title was no fluke, for she captured the All England in her very first Superseries final, and followed up with Superseries victories in Malaysia, Australia, France and Hong Kong, besides a second world title in Jakarta. Her 2015 season showcased all that she is renowned for – fierce competitive spirit; a range of precise if wickedly angled shots played even while at high speed, and great composure under pressure.
These qualities would bring her, memorably, an Olympic gold in Rio, and more titles around the world, including a third World Championships – making her the only women’s singles player to achieve that honour.
A serious knee injury at the Indonesia Masters last year was expected to derail her career, but Marin once again showed exemplary grit in returning to her level within seven months. In just her second tournament on her return, she outplayed an elite field to capture the Victor China Open.
For sheer toughness under pressure, there are few players who can match the fiery Spaniard from Huelva.
Olympics: Gold (2016)
World Championships: Gold (2014, 2015, 2018)
Other Major Honours
All England: Winner (2015)
European Championships: Winner (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)
China Open: Winner (2019, 2018)
Japan Open: Winner (2018, 2017)
Vote: Which of Carolina Marin’s matches would you prefer to see?
Which one of these two matches featuring Carolina Marin 🇪🇸 would you like to see for the Fans’ Match of the Week?
World Championships 2014 Final
🇪🇸 Carolina Marin 🆚 Li Xue Rui 🇨🇳
— BWF (@bwfmedia) July 14, 2020